South Cornwall Day 8, Sleep Deprived
160-Mile Hike On The South West Coast Path, South Cornwall – The Journal
Day 8 Mullion (Predannick) to Porthleven
Mon day 26th September 2022
- 8.5 miles
- changeable with constant strong winds
Index to all entries from this South Cornwall Hike
A Stormy Night On The South Cornwall Coast
It was a rough night in the tent. Very rough. Winds of 35 – 40 miles an hour were strong enough to lift the end of my sleeping mat off the ground, and the flapping and shaking kept me awake most of the night. I probably had a couple of hours sleep max and on top of sleep deprivation over the last week, this felt like the final nail in the sleep coffin.
As I lay there in the early hours I made plans for how far I’d walk, and the more I stayed awake the less inclined I felt to hike. It was all too easy to get home for a good night’s sleep from either Mullion, Poldhu, Porthleven, even Penzance, if I could walk that far, so that became my focus. I decided to see how it felt and make a decision on the fly. Then came the heavy rain, which made it even more difficult to get out of my sleeping bag (I’d been surprisingly warm all night) and would inevitably shorten the day at this time of year: I didn’t fancy hiking in the dark.
Close To Home
That’s one of the things about hiking close to home – it’s easy to bail for a few days. Some hikers might see this as a bonus, but I wrestled with it all day; was it a cop-out, was I a failure, a light-weight – or just someone who had no chance of a good night’s sleep because the forecast was for more of the same.
If you’re on a trail far from home you could take a zero at a campsite or a luxurious B&B (plenty do) – and there’s no guilt associated with the downtime whatsoever. Why then, was it such a battle in my head? I’ve no idea, except that my original plan was to hike all 160 miles as a thru-hike and those plans had already gone out the window. So, why worry now?
I’m much quicker at breaking camp than I am at setting up, but waking up in the first place takes forever. And then there was the rain…It was 9 am before I was on the move and though the rain had gone the strong winds were still blowing me sideways.
The first stop of the walk was Mullion Harbour (that’s where the photo of boats at the top of the page was taken) a mile or so along the cliffs. I’d get there, I told myself, and then decide whether to call it a very short day and head up to the village for the bus or not.
But it was so lovely down at the harbour, peaceful, bright and fresh and I was beginning to wake up – of course I’d walk on.
Next is Gunwalloe Church Cove followed by Dollar Cove and Gunwalloe.
Gunwalloe Church Cove is a beautiful sandy cove with a tiny 15th century church (St Winwaloe) tucked at the back. The views are especially good from above, but the wave action on the beach is always enjoyable.
Just around the corner is Dollar Cove, famed for occasionally turning up silver dollars from a 17th century shipwreck, and then it’s on to miles of sandy beaches from Gunwalloe to Loe Bar. The sand disappears at high tide and there’s no swimming either way because of the strong currents, so don’t get your hopes up on a hot day!
It’s a glorious walk though, with big expansive views – and the exposure that makes you feel alive in bad weather. The clear views and high winds today are an ideal combination!
(a circular walk with more details and photos of Gunwalloe Church Cove)
When you get down to Loe Bar, Porthleven, which has been on the horizon for miles, looks really close. It’s not. Not as close as you think anyway – it’s a good 1 and 3/4 miles to the back of the harbour, and it’s a bit of slog. It is when you’ve had no sleep anyway; tarmac was the last thing I wanted. Still, there was the lure of a good supermarket and lunch in the form of a sandwich, fresh fruit and a 1.75 litre bottle of coke (I’d given up on water at this point!) and plenty of benches to sit and eat it and make a decision.
Should I cut here after just 8.5 miles or walk on to the next place where public transport is relatively easy – a bus from Marazion (11 miles), a train from Penzance (14 miles)? I sat on a bench swigging the coke, doing calculations in my head, deliberating… Then a bus rolled up at the bus stop behind me and I ran for it. Decision made, apparently.
I soon regretted it. The subsequent delays meant it would have been quicker to hike to Penzance where I could have got the train and been home in half an hour. You live and learn. Except I don’t! I’m always hopeful that one day a bus journey might actually work out the way it’s meant to. It rarely does.
Whatever. I slept for 10 hours solid last night and I’m looking forward to getting back on it. 30 miles and 1 wild camp left and then I can finally say I’ve hiked all of Cornwall again this year. Actually, I’d love to do this as a one day hike, but, you guessed it, thanks to the last bus leaving Land’s End around 5 pm that’s a complete non-starter. FFS!
Today’s Trail Costs
- Breakfast, Poldu Beach Cafe: £9.60 (not recommended)
- Lunch, Pengelly’s supermarket Porthleven: £5.50 (highly recommended refuel stop)
- Bus, day ticket: £5.00 (just keep walking!)
Read More Journal Entries
Previous and next journal entries
- Day 1 Plymouth, Kingsand-Cawsand, Rame Head, Whitsand Bay (14.5 miles)
- Day 2 Portwrinkle, Looe, Polperro, Lantic Bay (20 miles)
- Day 3 Lantic Bay, Fowey, Charlestown, Pentewan (20 miles)
- Day 4 Pentewan, Mevagissey, Gorran Haven, Portscatho, Towan Beach (23 miles)
- Day 5 Towan, St Anthony, St Mawes, Falmouth (6 miles)
- Day 6 Falmouth, Helford Passage, Coverack (19 miles)
- Day 7 Coverack, Cadwith, Lizard Point, Kynance Cove, Mulllion (Predannick) (18 miles)
- Day 8 Mullion Harbour, Gunwalloe, Porthleven (8.5 miles)
- Day 9 Porthleven, Penzance, Mousehole, Lamorna (21 miles)
- Day 10 St Loy, Penberth, Land’s End (10 Miles)
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